Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Ruth G. Biro

Committee Member

Judith Griggs

Committee Member

Margaret Ford

Committee Member

Joseph Kush


Paraprofessional, Teacher Aide, Training, Welfare-to-work, Workforce Education, Adult Education


This study is a critical analysis of a paraprofessional training program that was located in southwestern Pennsylvania. The program was designed, developed and implemented to train and provide employment placement assistance and employment retention services to adults designated as economically and/or academically disadvantaged. There were two research questions: (1) How did the paraprofessional training program components impact the trainees' capacity to successfully complete the program and retain employment and (2) How did the paraprofessional training program components affect the trainees' ability to manage their journey to self-sufficiency? The subjects in this study were a purposive sample. At the time of enrollment into the program, all participants were either unemployed or underemployed. This qualitative research included case studies of five trainees who were identified as successful and distinguished graduates of the paraprofessional training program. Their journey of transitioning from the position of paraprofessional trainees to employed instructional assistants in educational settings was documented through their stories. The audio taped interviews consisted of a set of questions and responses identifying the trainees' expectations of the program, experiences as a participant, evidence of their performance, and evaluation of the training received. The demographic survey obtained background information about each participant. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the training and employment of unemployed and underemployed participants designated as economically and/or academically disadvantaged by (1) understanding elements of the training that assisted in their successful workplace transition and retention, (2) identifying unaddressed issues in their transition, and finally (3) identifying practices, procedures and accommodations for expediting increased economic independence. The data set revealed all five participants met their goal of training, employment acquisition and retention, and characteristics of self-actualization and self-transcendence in their quest for self-sufficiency. The study also revealed that the training program model was highly effective in meeting the participants' needs to embark on their journey to self-sufficiency.